Warrior Change Analysis: Fury is the new black (actually it was also the old black)

Reading through the list of warrior changes, there were two things that heroic leaped out at me.

1. Heroic Leap, it’s all about the fluff

Heroic leap sounds cool and all, but it’s functionally equivalent to  Charge + Thunderclap. And to hammer home the similarity, Juggernaut and Warbringer will allow this to be used in any stance and possibly while in combat.  From this we can deduce that the cooldown on Heroic Leap will be greater than the cooldown on Charge, because it’s cooler and therefore should not be used as frequently. (This is game designer logic, by the way.)

And also, the entire appeal of this ability lies in the animation and sound effect. Really as a Prot Warrior, I’d have preferred a Shockwave  to a Thunderclap, just for the sheer cartoon ‘Anvil falling on your head’ effect, but that’s probably deemed overpowered for the dps specs.

2. One handed Fury is back in style?

While we like how Titan’s Grip plays, we recognize some warriors liked the Fury tree because of the really fast swings that dual-wielding one-handed weapons could provide. Therefore, we’re planning to try out a talent called Single-Minded Fury that is parallel to Titan’s Grip and will provide a large boost to the damage of a pair of one-handed weapons.

I always liked the cuisinart style of the one handed fury builds, so count me among the people who would be happy to see that return. But do Blizzard really want to have to balance two handed fury builds, one handed fury builds, and arms for PvE at the same time?

There are some big advantages from bringing back the option to dual wield one handed weapons, mostly that Fury warriors could share weapons with Frost Death Knights since they use similar stats. It would also make sense for one of the one-handed weapon types to be solely itemised for strength (i.e. for plate users) and others for agility (i.e. everyone else). This would not fit with the weapon related racial bonuses – but really, what’s the chance of finding a matching pair of strength-based one handed axes when the one handed drops are going to be split between several classes, specs, and races?

One thing is for sure, warriors are going to have enormous and impressive …. weapon collections.

Other tweaks to Fury will make it easier and more rewarding to apply sunders, and will generate rage on interrupts as well as regular hits. (This latter really should be inherent in Pummel and not require a talent, but I guess that if people feel they don’t need the rage then they can just skip it.) Whirlwind also becomes a true AE, with a note that it should no longer be part of the regular DPS rotation but without any specifics.

I don’t get a strong feel yet for how the Fury rotation is going to look in future. One staple (Whirlwind) is being de-emphasised, so maybe that gets replaced by cleave or heroic strike? Who knows. We’ll have to try it out.

3. So how popular will warriors be in Cataclysm?

Hatch reckons that the numbers will decrease because this preview doesn’t offer anything very exciting. I think that we haven’t seen previews for the other tanking classes yet to compare this with, and that a lot of Death Knight tanks will switch to Protection Warrior if they don’t fancy tanking in Blood spec.

I also think that some of these changes, together with the rage changes, will be exciting to some players. (I know people who have been moping about losing one handed fury builds since Wrath first dropped and all DPS warriors will be happy for easier sunders.) I also think that Warrior will be a popular Worgen class, and that Blood Elf Warriors will appeal to a lot of players.

So I think that warriors will continue to be the most popular class for raid tanks, and that numbers overall will stay about the same.

Ramping up the Cataclysm PR, and what I want to see for warriors

wow-cataclysm-logo-5801

One thing I had forgotten until I saw the first of the class previews yesterday was how important these were from a PR point of view. All it takes is for Blizzard to announce one really cool sounding ability for a beloved class. And then the next expansion starts to feel more personal. For example, how many people came into Wrath excited to try dual wielding two-handed weapons on their warriors? Whether you like the idea or not, it’s still crazy, over the top, cool, and came in with this expansion.

There is a downside, of course. No one gets excited about playing the class which has nothing fun to look forwards to. And when you get a glimpse into the future, there is no guarantee that you will like what you see. A lot of players will also be looking at the class previews to help decide which class they want to play as a main in Cataclysm — if in doubt, pick the one that is getting the coolest new stuff.

Still, Blizzard will try to get every current player excited about the Expansion That Is To Come. So expect every class preview to include at least one really cool sounding tweak or ability as well as some housekeeping, and changes to some other aspect which will be made less annoying/ easier. (e.g. for warlocks – GREEN FIRE! Yes, I’m easily pleased.)

Is it time to sort out stances?

cataclysmlogo

I don’t expect to see many changes for Protection Warriors. The spec works just fine and is more fun to play than ever.  If they can get the rage changes in smoothly, I’ll be happy. However, there still need to be three new abilities for the next expansion. I have no idea what to expect but hope it won’t require too many extra key binds because … I have small hands and most of the keys I can easily reach are busy!

Nope, the big issue for warriors from a design point of view is the stances. Like a druid, each stances locks out many of our abilities in return for giviing access to others. Unlike a druid, we don’t get much in return for this, especially with battle/berserk stance. Switching from a Death Knight (who can use all of their abilities in any presence) and being forcibly reminded that warriors can’t interrupt in battle stance is like having a bucket of cold water thrown over you.

And also, we just don’t stance dance in PvE any more. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun and quirky, and warriors were originally designed to be switching stances a lot. So if you needed an ability (like fear resist), you would quickly switch to the right stance, use it, and then switch back. These days, the design is to pick the stance which goes with your spec and stay there. I don’t expect a return to the stance dancing days – it was fun, but it’s counter to every direction in which the game is going.

So I’m hoping for some answers to the questions:

  • What are stances really for these days?
  • What benefits should we get from them? And when should we switch stance?
  • Does it still make sense to lock out so many abilities via stances?

Also, heroic leap (an ability which was notoriously present in Wrath beta testing but then got removed)!